Volunteering in Des Moines

Thursday night, I had the opportunity to set up a Drake booth at the YPC Nonprofit Forum, which featured a ‘buffet’ of 40 organizations in need of members/volunteers.

That's me in the blue tights. Photo via the YPC facebook gallery

There’s such a great energy when you get all sorts of passionate, committed people in one place to talk about their organizations. I was stuck in the corner most of the night, but loved how many familiar and new faces came through — all in search of some way to give back to the community. With my work-school-work-school bubble, it had been awhile since I’d been at a networking type event and I’m so glad we participated.

I invited Anne Murr, the coordinator of the Drake Adult Literacy Center to come along and recruit volunteers for the center, which improves the quality of adults’ lives by helping them learn to read, write and comprehend. It’s a great organization that provides one on one tutoring and, because the center is housed at Drake, there’s no shame for people seeking services. They can work toward those basic literacy skills and just say they’re taking a class at Drake without the stigma of a remedial program. It’s a one hour a week commitment for a year, and something I definitely will be interested in once my grad program is over! Anne was so animated and engaging each time a potential volunteer would come by. It was fun to watch her tell the story of the center to all of the attendees. We got lots of names and e-mail addresses from people who seemed interested, too! (Of course, I had to do my part and walk around the booths handing out info on the Drake MPA nonprofit management track.)

Another organization that caught my eye is the brand-new Greater Des Moines Habitat Young Professionals group, which is part of the local Habitat for Humanity. I did a Habitat build in college and Joe volunteered for a day a few months ago, and I think it would be something really fun for us to do together. They’re even having a bicycle “Tour de Habitat” coming up. From their newsletter:

Tour de Habitat
October 8

Save the date for HYP’s first event, a family friendly bike tour! The Greater Des Moines Tour de Habitat 2011 will provide a route that gives riders a unique perspective into the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity.

Let's go ride a bike!The tour will pass through some of the neighborhoods that GDM Habitat impacts most. Habitat projects over the past 25 years will be featured in the Drake, Mondamin Presidential, River Bend and King Irving neighborhoods.

Cost*: $20 for HYP members, $25 for non-members

*includes water and a post-ride reception along with prizes!

If you are interested in join us for this fun-filled day, please contact Jon Harcey. Stay tuned for more information.

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